Jerrabomberra Valley: Project Profile

by John Mongard Landscape Architects

Planning a Sustainable Future

Australia is one of the world's most urbanised countries yet it has a very unsustainable pattern of development. Canberra is Australia's planned capital and ironically performs the worst out of the major cities in terms of energy and travel efficiencies.

ACT City Services, Canberra's authority for building and maintaining the City, engaged John Mongard Landscape Architects to lead a team of ten inter-departmental experts in developing a better model for the next new town, Jerrabomberra to be built in the year 2020.

The outcomes, a publication called "Making Canberra a Better Place: Ideas for a More Sustainable Future", was published in 1994 and became a major contribution to the planning of the City. A competition for public ideas was concurrently run to involve the Australian community.

A New Urban Vision

The vision was to create a self contained human scale town that conserves and respects its resources and environment, and which offers diverse lifestyle choices and quality infrastructure. Design concepts and strategies were developed for the site in the Jerrabomberra Valley, Canberra. The designs created a place for people to live in harmony with the natural environment.

Linear City Based on Neighbourhoods

The Jerrabomberra Valley Study linked the extensive research base of the ACT City Services and aimed to engage cutting edge technologies in all areas, from waste recycling through to infrastructure planning.

The concept creates a city built on pods of 1250 people at a density of about three times that of current Canberra. The pods follow the spine of public transport which doubles as a main street. Four neighbourhoods would make up a single stage of the city, which would allow it to be self sustaining in terms of employment and infrastructure. The linear spine is built around a lake which acts as a filter structure. Wildlife corridors cross the city and connect walkers to the hills.

The strategy for a sustainable urban development will need to:

  • be contained and compact;
  • work within the framework of existing and planned developments in the surrounding areas of the ACT and NSW;
  • be developed in a linear fashion along a central spine that provides links to major transport corridors and employment locations;
  • ultimately be adaptable to light rail linking to Canberra Central through Manuka and Kingston, with a loop to Queanbeyan and Fyshwick. The light rail system could use existing rail corridors where practicable, and would have extensions to Hume and Tuggeranong;
  • be developed around a lake and water retention pond system based upon the Jerrabomberra Creek, which will be used for flood mitigation, irrigation and improvement of water quality;
  • be developed using energy efficient principles, using solar and wind power where possible;
  • incorporate waste minimisation strategies;
  • protect and retain culturally and naturally significant sites;
  • incorporate vegetated corridors to connect open space with wildlife areas;
    and
  • be developed to maintain the integrity of Canberra's bushland setting.

A Room Becomes a Building, Becomes a Block, Becomes a City

The Jerrabomberra Valley Study has built a city model based on the unit of a room. Thin buildings built around courtyards will allow all types of density but within a sustainable structure.

Community gardens feature in every precinct. Parks and shops are no more than five minutes walk. No major roads cross the neighbourhoods, and public transport usage will rise from 20 to 40 percent.

Eighty percent of all wastes will be recycled using innovative technology involving worm farms. In all, the City of 45,000 people will take up only ten percent of the valley, or 900 hectares.

Placemaking is an important process of forming a desirable living environment for people. Our objective in achieving sustainable placemaking is to promote more efficient building design, to arrange buildings to enhance the public realm, to minimise the impact of urban development on resources, and to create a high quality physical environment.

It is vitally important to sustain and enhance the natural environment at Jerrabomberra and to maintain a high standard of air and water quality, to minimise noise levels, to create and maintain an attractive micro-climate, and to establish open space and wildlife corridors.

A series of design workshops in collaboration with ACT City Services Team led to the proposal for an environmentally sustainable new town in Southern Canberra. The study was undertaken as a three stage process over several months. The challenge was to research the issues of sustainability and sprawling urban development facing Australian cities. The study analysed the existing character and investigated concepts for a sustainable living city.

The vision was to create a self contained human scale town that conserves and respects its resources and environment, and which offers diverse lifestyle choices and quality infrastructure. Design concepts and strategies were developed for the site in the Jerrabomberra Valley, Canberra. The designs created a place for people to live in harmony with the natural environment.

The recommendations and ideas are outlined in "Making Canberra a Better Place: Ideas for a more sustainable future" which was published in 1994 by the ACT Government. The book formed a significant contribution to the Jerrabomberra Valley National Ideas Competition.

The strategy for a sustainable urban development will need to:

  • be contained and compact;
  • work within the framework of existing and planned developments in the surrounding areas of the ACT and NSW;
  • be developed in a linear fashion along a central spine that provides links to major transport corridors and employment locations;
  • ultimately be adaptable to light rail linking to Canberra Central through Manuka and Kingston, with a loop to Queanbeyan and Fyshwick. The light rail system could use existing rail corridors where practicable, and would have extensions to Hume and Tuggeranong;
  • be developed around a lake and water retention pond system based upon the Jerrabomberra Creek, which will be used for flood mitigation, irrigation and improvement of water quality;
  • be developed using energy efficient principles, using solar and wind power where possible;
  • incorporate waste minimisation strategies;
  • protect and retain culturally and naturally significant sites;
  • incorporate vegetated corridors to connect open space with wildlife areas;
    and
  • be developed to maintain the integrity of Canberra's bushland setting.

It is estimated that Jerrabomberra can accommodate 45000 people. The concept focuses on linear development along a central activity spine, with neighbourhoods running along both sides. Each neighbourhood will occupy 16 hectares and accommodate around 1250 residents.

Placemaking is an important process of forming a desirable living environment for people. Our objective in achieving sustainable placemaking is to promote more efficient building design, to arrange buildings to enhance the public realm, to minimise the impact of urban development on resources, and to create a high quality physical environment.

It is vitally important to sustain and enhance the natural environment at Jerrabomberra and to maintain a high standard of air and water quality, to minimise noise levels, to create and maintain an attractive micro-climate, and to establish open space and wildlife corridors.

For Further Information Contact:
John Mongard Landscape Architects
mail@mongard.com.au
Ph: (07) 3844 1932
Fax: (07) 3844 3250